|Because you can never have too many cute baby pics...|
Thing #1, when joining Twitter you get to fill out your bio with whatever you want people to know about you. Mine says:
Wife. Mommy. Writer. Yo. Currently revising my first fantasy novel, THE SIGHT, among other things...
I actually just decided, I'm going to change it to say that I'm LDS (Mormon) and some of the things I love (chocolate, movies, music, etc.) so that people can relate to me in different ways. I've noticed in myself that I'm more likely to follow someone if I have something in common with them, even aside from writing. Actually, the thing that's most likely to get me following someone, is if I see them talking and interacting with someone I already follow and love. So...
Thing #2, I get to follow people! If you find you don't like reading someone's tweets you can always un-follow them later. But give them a chance first. The most important thing for writers is to follow other writers AND agents, AND people in the publishing industry. Most of the time, if you follow someone you trust you can go see who they follow, and just have at it! (That's what I did!) It takes a bit of rooting around (there are a LOT of people on Twitter) but once you find your niche, you're set.
Thing #3, using the reply system, (putting someone's @-name before the tweet). This is handy when you want to find out who people talk to the most. You can go to someone's page and see who they're replying to, then follow those people. Once you do that, you'll always be able to see their conversations, and jump in if you have something to add. Doing this, you get to find people with similar personalities, interests, etc.
Thing #4, watch the hashtags! A hashtag is basically a search term that, when you or others include it in a tweet, means others will see it if they search for that hashtag, regardless of whether you sent an @-reply or not. So when contests are going on they'll generally have a hashtag so you can follow the news on that contest.
There are also chats that happen on a regular basis that you can watch out for by using the hashtag. Here are some of my favorites...
#10queriesin10tweets Happens randomly (an agent will randomly pull out 10 queries from their slush pile and tell you whether they are rejecting or requesting, and why. (That's prob my fave...))
#editreport Happens randomly, by @angelajames, where she shares editors comments on manuscripts, what the weaknesses and strengths were, why they did or did not like it, etc.
#YAWritersAAT (Young Adult Writers Ask A Teen) Sunday at 9pm ET
#YALitChat (Young Adult Lit Chat) Wednesday at 9pm ET.
(That's currently 6pm, AZ time for those in my state...)
#WriteClub This is new! Writers get together and write together in 30-minute sprints, coming together to support and evaluate between each go-round.
Thing #5, GETTING INVOLVED in CONTESTS! Contests on Twitter are a fantastic way to meet new writers and become friends. Writers who are entering contests tend to have done a lot of research and can give great advice, become CP's or Beta readers, or just give support and encouragement on a bad day. (I've experienced this firsthand on both sides of the fence, giving and receiving.)
Seriously, Twitter is great. Especially for the writing community.